They say that millennials aren't buying houses because we spend all our money on avocado toast. While that's definitely, irrevocably, 100 percent true, it's probably also because we've seen too many movies about Wall Street disasters and have decided Hmm … I don't know that I want to give Leonardo DiCaprio money to buy wolves or whatever (that's what The Wolf of Wall Street was about, right?). Or maybe millennials aren't investing in real estate because we've all been working an insane number of jobs that don't offer benefits or a 401(k); because we live paycheck to paycheck; and because the prospect of investing money for your retirement or for buying a house one day seems crazy when you need to eat lunch today and pay your rent right now.
Then, suddenly, you look at your life, and you're in your 30s and you're like, Shit, I should've started thinking about this a couple of years ago! Which is why, when I brought this up in one of our edit meetings, I was thrilled that Jess knew exactly the person who could help me — and all of you who might be in the same boat — Sallie Krawcheck.
Sallie is a total powerhouse. Currently, she is the CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, a website that helps women invest and plan for their future. Before that, she worked as a CEO and CFO of a variety of investment firms. Most notably, she was ousted as CEO of Citigroup's wealth-management business because she thought Citi should reimburse its clients for money it lost due to bad investment decisions by the company. So, you know, she is legit.
We met in a conference room of the Ellevest offices in Manhattan, which were under a bit of construction. Talking to Sallie really is like talking to a cool friend or cool aunt who is just extremely knowledgeable and no-nonsense. We discussed the basics of investing and navigating Wall Street jargon, and she also walked me through Ellevest (which, real talk, is super-easy to use). By the end of our conversation, I left with a clear to-do list, so it looks like I'll be able to continue eating all the avocados and own a house one day after all.
Laia Garcia: You studied journalism in college. How did you end up working in finance?
Sallie Krawcheck: I had two job offers when I was coming out of college. I had an offer from the Miami Herald, writing obituaries for $12,000 a year — this may not be exactly right, but in my mind it's right. It was 1987 and Wall Street was hot, and I also had a job offer from Salomon Brothers for $32,000. My father forbid me to move to New York, so I'm like, "I am going to New York for my $32,000." The thinking was, I will do this for a couple of years, and then I'll become a business journalist. I just really loved Wall Street. I became a research analyst, which is a lot like a journalist because you write, but you also do the investment models, and that for me was a really good combination.
LG: Were you familiar with the stock market before then, or did you just learn on the job?
SK: Oh, God, I learned on the job. That is sort of the secret: It's hard, but it's not that hard. I took one math class in college and went to Wall Street anyway.
You know, it's funny, because a lot of women talk about having "impostor syndrome," and I came to Wall Street like, Wow, this is supposed to be so hard, and it's not. We just make it sound hard. We just throw on the jargon. Like, if you're the one with all the knowledge and nobody else has it, you're in a pretty good position. Once the knowledge is spread out, all of a sudden, you're not the expert, it's hard to charge as much.